“I want to give up, throw in the towel, say “f” it all, and walk away. I want to quit. That’s how I felt. I was in such a deep, dark, place. If seeing my father nearly die from alcoholism wasn’t enough already, I lost nearly everything that I worked so hard for at the same time. My son was struggling, our home became tense, and I couldn’t even afford to put Christmas presents under the tree; the “cherry on top” if you will that wasn’t so sweet. I didn’t know how I would face my children. I was so angry and bitter about everything. It felt like my world was tumbling down and instead of trying to build it back up, I felt like watching it burn. I was filled with resentment. I wasn’t sleeping and I literally wanted to yell and punch holes through the wall. I was walking off stage and even blowing up on my friends and family. As my anxiety grew so did my depression. It was like a revolving door that wouldn’t stop spinning. The people that were closest to me were really worried about me and so was I. The negative thoughts were overwhelming and as paranoia kicked in, I thought everyone was out to get me. All this, mixed with isolation and self-loathing was a deadly mix for hopelessness. My biggest fears became monsters and I didn’t know where to turn.”
That’s where I was in the start of last year. Nothing like kicking off the New Year with some of the darkest times. As I sit here today and reflect on the past 12 months, I can honestly say that 2017 was actually one of my best years yet. Now I know what you must be thinking. You are probably asking yourself “didn’t you just say that you wanted to give up?” or “How is that possible? Weren’t you hopeless?” and the answer to both of those questions are “yes”. The reality was it was in that darkness that I was able to find strength again. It was there that I was really able to take a look at myself and see what was troubling me. It was there that I decided that I wouldn’t give up on myself. It was there that I was able to believe in something again.
Look, I got my ass kicked in the arena of life but instead of giving up; I got back up, brushed my shoulders off, and found the light to help me out of the darkness. I became more aware of my thoughts, feeling, and emotions. The awareness that I had for my physical, mental, and emotional pains in many ways helped me to let them go as well. Compassion and empathy for others grew and so did the hope inside of me for a brighter future.
Over the past year, I have been able to pass through 17 different states. In these travels, I have heard countless stories; many of them filled with similar pains and that’s not to mention 1,000’s of students I have shared stories with this past year alone. As I am reflecting today, I can’t help but to hear their voices, picture their tears, and be reminded of their journey. Because we all struggle and we all experience failure, make mistakes, and face challenges; I thought it would be great to share with you what helped me overcome some of my most difficult times.
Throughout the next year, I promise to write for you all more often and continue to share helpful insights on my Rise & Grind Podcast. For now, I am leaving you with 4 ideas that helped to change my life.
1. Change Yourself
“Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it” –Charles R. Swindoll
Self-care is so important. When we change our habits and change our minds, we change our life. Like previously stated, we all are going to face hardships, frustrations, setbacks, and heartaches, but the way we view them makes all the difference. You can have control over your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. You have the ability to stop the negativity in your life and start being more positive. “The attitude of gratitude” is so powerful and can help us all find the joy and happiness that we are looking for.
Last year, I learned that self-care is the cure to all insecurities. It helps to build us up in so many ways. Taking care of ourselves helps us to overcome physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual challenges. Here are some of the beliefs, behaviors, and habits over the past year that made a huge difference in my life:
- Having Faith: Whatever it is, you have to believe in something. Find something that is greater than you. God, the Universe, something.
- Living in The Moment: meditation and prayer has changed my life. Take a deep breath. Things are going to be ok.
- Getting Better Sleep: when I don’t sleep, my mental health suffers, and so does everything else.
- Eating Better: what you put in your body matters besides nobody likes being “hangry”.
- Being Active: taking a walk, doing 10 reps of something in the morning, stretching, or doing something active, especially with others, can help you feel good and do your body wonders.
- Reflective Journaling: taking time to think about what I am grateful for has helped me out of my darkness in so many ways. Daily affirmations and stacking success on the daily has also helped me to throw away the feeling that “I am not good enough”. So powerful.
- Purpose Driven Time Management: finding ways to be more productive and cut the “too busy” out of my life so I could spend more time with my friends and family has been so important to me and my life’s work.
At the end of the day, I want to be able to say “I showed up and did my best” more often than not. Sure we can fail-forward but we can also strive at our full potential too. This is where we can leave the words “I can’t” behind and grow.
2. Be Authentic.
“The most daring thing to do is be you and not worry about what’s popular or what others are doing. Show up and be yourself.”
Are you being true to yourself? Are you trustworthy, reliable, and is what you are saying to yourself and others credible? These are questions that I would encourage you to ask yourself more often. Questions like these help me think about what “being authentic” really means.
When I show up and I am comfortable enough to be myself it empowers me in so many ways. It helps to build up my self-esteem, allows me to give myself more credit, and helps me feel like I am good enough more often. That my friends, is a pretty amazing feeling. Try it. See how you feel when you start becoming the person you want to be. Show up, do your best, be courageous, and stand up for what you believe in. Find something you love and pour your heart into it.
3. Don’t Do It Alone
“We can grow when we start building each other up, instead of wasting time to tear each other down.”
Whether it is in your own personal life or at work, I have learned that some of the smartest people don’t go at it alone. When we ask others for help and guidance, it gives us some direction. It’s that camaraderie that gives us that sense of belonging that we are all looking for. I believe we all want to feel like we are a part of something; like we have some value to offer. When we don’t go at it alone, it gives the world an example of how powerful human connection can be. Working with people brings different viewpoints to light, helps us share ideas, develop learning opportunities, and even helps create accountability. Besides, when we see people serving others it gives us permission to do the same. Together, we are much stronger, much healthier, and much happier. Lend a helping hand or grab onto somebody that is there for you. It could even save a life.
4. Continue to Grow
“The strongest principle of growth lies in the human choice” –George Eliot
Recently, a friend of mine challenged me to try reading for 15 minutes every night. I laughed and told him that I have such a hard time reading. Sure I listen to audio and use visual educational tools, but reading has been something I have struggled with for a long time. He then handed me 2 books, one being Resolved: the 13 Resolutions for Life by Orrin Woodward, and said “just try it”. That was two weeks ago and I am still taking the challenge. I have been reading, learning, and growing ever since! It’s made such a huge difference in my life already. I can’t wait to share more. For now here are a few things from the year that I have learned which has stuck out most:
- Accepting the power of love and facing fear –these also relate to stress, anxiety, depression, gratitude, joy, and more.
- Learning to run my own race and stay in my lane – In other words, stop worrying about what others are doing.
- Importance of finding a mentor and discovering my tribe – My goal here is to find peace and contentment by overcoming challenges together.
- Persistence, perseverance, and patience – the powerful 3 P’s and using them as tools that help you to navigate life.
- Take action on the daily – How can we make the most out of the time we have? Small obtainable goals will set you free.
Today, it feels so good to say that I have purpose in life. I am filled with meaning, gratitude, and joy. I love myself, my children, my family, my friends, and the life that has been given to me. Sure it’s still hard and difficult at times but that’s what makes life so great. It’s the up’s and down’s that make the ride worthwhile.
I am so excited for 2018. I will be working hard to strive forward in my purpose and become a man of great character. A person with integrity, a good attitude, and a giant vision for the future. I am looking forward to learning more, spending my time wisely, focusing on what’s important, and taking out the trash in my life. Less whining, no excuses, and embracing the crazy! It’s going to be one awesome year for all of us!
“If you want to change the world around you, start with you”
What are you going to continue doing in 2018?
Share your thoughts here*
Happy New Year!
Love you all,
President & Co-Founder
Network and our article in the HuffPost:
Statewide Story for #1MillionMohawks Challenge: